Busy Bee

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Friends, I really do like calling you by that name. No, not Busy Bee, I mean Friends. I like that I can sit down and share how I'm doing with you. I kinda wish you could all crawl through your computer and sit down here on my couch with me. I could really use a good snuggle or two. I have even had dreams about spooning with a boy on the pavement of a mall parking lot. Yeah, that one was weird. But if all of you could come and squish with me in real life, I would really appreciate it.

All of that to say that you're going to have to wait just a wee bit longer for my next update. I've been out of town and have plenty of stories and pictures to share, but have to wait a while before my time will be free enough to share fun things. Like I last mentioned, work has been phenomenally hard and stressful. Our youth group stuff is also starting up, so I am having to do a lot of work for that as well. So much so that I made myself work for a few hours on it while on vacation. That kinda sucked. But this all will pass and life will get less hectic. When that happens, I will pull you round my dinner table and show you pictures and make you laugh. In the meantime, here's a random shot I pulled from my vacation stack to whet your appetite.

P.S. If you click on the picture, you can better see my look of concentration and effort.

Stress Relief

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friends, this past week has been hard. There's been some big shake up at work and I am now in a new position in the company. I can't go into details because I have a policy of not writing much about my job. Just know that it was incredibly difficult and removing me from my position rocked a lot of people in my company. It's a weird situation and has nothing to do with me, I just got caught in the middle. So today I did what I always do when under severe stress-- I cooked.

I made Fleur de Sel Caramels and found out my candy thermometer is off because I ended up making hard candies instead of chewy ones. I have to thank my hammer for helping me break this into pieces.

I also made two types of caramel sauce, one being my normal every day caramel sauce (not pictured) and a Dulce de Leche.

I roasted garlic.

And put some of the cloves in olive oil. That way we can have them later and then use the garlicy oil for something else.

I also roasted vegetables and made my Roasted Vegetable Soup again.

And then I made chocolate chip cookies.

It was an enormous stress relief. I loved just putzing around and creating. It did my spirit wonders. Right now I am watching Sons of Provo, a Mormon movie, with friends old and new. Do you remember my love of Mormon movies? Because I really do think they're hilarious. This particular one is funnier than normal. It really is just the most wonderful end to a wonderful day.


Monday, September 22, 2008

So I have started out this post several times now but have erased everything because every time I try to write something funny, it comes out sacrilegious. Not that I really have that much of a problem with irreverence, but I feel like I really don't want something I might regret saying out there on the big wide web. I will keep my lips sealed and won't mention any of my super funny jokes about about our mocku-miracle.

It all started with a candle that decided to somehow completely melted in half. We didn't see what was happening for quite a while, so this is the resulting puddle. You will be happy to know that Henry, who was right under it, got only the merest dribble of wax on his fur.

Angel Gabriel

We spent meticulous minutes taking it off all in once piece only to have it break in two. I don't know why it was important to have one piece, but it was. We resigned ourselves to our two pieced result and were trying to figure out what the pieces each looked like when I suggested that one of them looked like an angel. This is Jess' reaction.

Angel Gabriel

You cannot tell me that you don't think this is angelic. It's a miracle! A Mocku-miracle!

Angel Gabriel

Those other pictures were taken last night when it was dark out, so I had to get one of our little Gabriel with a heavenly glow about him in the light of day.

Angel Gabriel

You can see his beautiful waxy flow here.

Angel Gabriel

If you all doubt us and think that we are making this up, we do have a third party verification. Tim, our new favorite friend (I don't think he knows that yet), was there and witnessed the entire thing. He said he will testify for us in a court of law. Well, maybe he didn't say that, but I'm sure he would if we made him.

Roasted Vegetable Soup

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Roasted Vegetable Soup

You haven't seen many of my food posts lately because I totally lost my cooking mojo for a while. I think it ran off with Austen Powers. Seriously, I couldn't cook. I couldn't follow a recipe, much less make one up. I had no idea what I should eat for dinner so it became chips & salsa or apples. I was seriously stressed about the lack of any interest in cooking and the less I cooked the more worried I became. Jess was getting equally concerned because my lack of mojo means she has to fend for herself. Then last week something clicked. The world shifted back on its axis. The blurriness came into focus. I felt the cooking section of my soul settle back into its proper place, jockying for position slowly but deeply.

I started off with simple foods. Pastas, specialty sandwiches, stir frys. Delicious and almost impossible to screw up. Today I decided that I was ready for more. The Farm had provided us with an absolute bounty of carrots, much more than we could possibly eat in a week. I decided that I had to make something with them and ended up using a bunch of our produce from this week's harvest.

I have to say that this has got to be one of the best recipes I have ever created. As in I-wish-it-were-socially-acceptable-to-lick-the-bowl-good. Jess couldn't stop raving as well and even called her mom to read my blog tonight (hi Connie!). This will definitely be on repeat during our winter months.

Roasted Vegetable Soup

There is no need to peel any of the vegetables (except beets after cooking). They will end up being pureed anyway and will provide even more nutrition. You can also roast a second head of garlic at the same time for spreading on pieces of crusty french bread to go along with the soup. The measurements for the spices are approximations. Taste and add more if needed. You can made the soup thick or thin depending on how much broth you add. I prefer a thicker style soup myself.

8 medium-small carrots
1 sweet potato
3 beets
1 large onion
1 head garlic
olive oil

6-8 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp tumeric
2 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
salt & pepper to taste

Mexican crema (or sour cream)
chives, chopped

Preheat oven to 400. Chop carrots, beets, onions, & sweet potato into large chunks. Toss with olive oil and spread on a cookie sheet. Cut the top off the entire head of garlic and spread a bit of olive oil around the entire head, then place it on the cookie sheet. Roast vegetables until soft and slightly caramelized in the oven for 45-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

Once the vegetables are done roasting, let cool slightly, then remove the skins from the beets. They should peel off easily. Squeeze each garlic clove out of its skin, discard skin. Working in batches, puree the vegetables with some vegetable broth in a blender. Pour the puree into a stock pot. Turn heat to medium. Add the spices, stirring occasionally 5-10 minutes until heated through. Serve with a dallop of creama & chives.

Squirrel Boobies

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Today's entry is a guest blog from my Mom. Really, it was from an email she sent me, but I thought it was so great/awful that I had to repost it. Jack is our dog at home who is a rather largish dog. Thanks Mama!

So then we finally get home. A squirrel was trotting along the fence between Tyler's and us. Jack noticed the squirrel, too, but didn't do his usual 'let-me-at-'em. Pretended that it was just fine that a squirrel was on our property. So I let Jack into the back yard. Before I could shut the gate, Jack took off like a rocket...really...straight up. He cleared the top of the fence. But not to jump over it. He jumped up and caught the squirrel in his mouth as cleanly as an eagle catches fish with one dive. You should have heard the racket from Mrs. squirrel. I was just horrified! Jack ran all over the yard with said squirrel clamped between his teeth, and I swear he was grinning the whole time. He bashed the little creature on the ground and threw it on the grass. Then he'd pounce on it again and bash it some more. I was nearly in tears. I told Jack to bring me the squirrel and he DID! Trotted over with the thing in his mouth and put it down where I indicated. Jack was grinning and being a dog and the ol' tail was a-wagging...I am proud of myself for not yelling at him as he really was just being a dog and showing me his treasure. He did express consternation when I pointed for him to go back to the back yard. I slammed the gate and went to inspect said squirrel. It was a Mrs. I know this because of the tiny boobies that were full of milk. And we know that only Mrs. have babies. So I'm in mourning still as there is a batch of babies somewhere, waiting for mama to come back to feed them. Crummy world we live in sometimes.

Mrs. squirrel it still where Jack left her. On the grass between Tyler's and our house. It's lying on it's back, waiting for Larry to deal with it. Yes. I'm being a girl here, but I just can't for the life of me pick it up to dispose of it.


Monday, September 15, 2008

"Hello?" [tap tap]

"Is this thing on?" [throat clears, echoing across the room]

"Um, well, I just wanted to let you all know that there will be some radio silence for the next week or so. I'm working on a super secret project." [searing feedback sharply pings]

"I'll share it with you when it's ready. I promise." [man coughs in the audience]

"Thank you and goodnight." [the crowd erupts in a roar of applause]

P.S. Sometimes I'm so weird I crack myself up.

Favorite Things: Jasper Fforde

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I've decided to start sharing some of my Favorite Things with you all. I just couldn't resist doing this first entry.

To me, books are like taking breaths. Totally necessary for life, but I hardly ever come across one that stands out from the others. However, I have broken my self imposed silence to talk about the brilliance of Jasper Fforde.

I will readily admit that I am prejudiced against male authors. I just prefer the voice of a woman writer. However, I was completely blown away by The Eyre Affair when I picked it up in Borders. I happened to see one of the sequels and was instantly drawn to it but made myself purchase The Eyre Affair, as it is the first of the series. The basic premise of it is that Thursday Next, the main female character, has to hunt down the person who kidnapped a character from Jane Eyre. The beginning of the book started out rather confusing and complex with many characters, but I got hooked a third of the way through and couldn't put it down.

What I love so much about the book was that it was so inventive. So original. So clever. So witty. Normally I don't ever buy books. I read so many that I utilize the library's selection for the most part. However, I have now purchased 3 of Jasper Fforde's books from Borders and decided that I might as well order the rest online at Amazon. For me, that is absolutely unheard of to buy every single book of a specific author. I've only done that with one other author.

I'm not going to recommend these books to anyone. I don't like recommending books because everyone's tastes are so different. Don't read these books before bed. Or when you're sick. Or tired. Or not ready to pay attention. You won't understand a thing that's happening and will hate me forever telling you about them.

But do read them if you like a well turned phrase. References to classic works of literature (I don't like reading classics, but I like the references here). Witty dialogue. Completely inventive and imaginative ideas. The deeper I get into the series, the better it gets.

Jasper Fforde's website is also quite amusing. I think that it really only makes a lot of sense when you have read at least one of his books, but it is still fun to look at.

Jasper Fforde's website

Jasper Fforde's books on Amazon.com

Rolling Through Fields

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A couple days ago I went back to my blackberry picking spot and rolled through the weeds taking pictures. There was some story I had to share with you about it but I completely forget what it was. It's late, I'm tired, and I can't think much at the moment. I'm just going to post a couple of my favorites and you can click on any of the pictures to see more.

Fields & Weeds

Fields & Weeds

Fields & Weeds

Fields & Weeds

Fields & Weeds

Blackberry Spritzer

Monday, September 8, 2008

Blackberry Spritzer

I am up at a completely unnatural hour. No one should be awake after midnight. Simply no one. Alas, my brain hasn't turned off for the night yet and I am up after tossing and turning for a good hour in bed. Don't ask me why. It's not like I had a quad shot latte minutes before bed. Or ten cups of black tea. Or a Monster. Although I will BE a monster tomorrow after this little of sleep. It's not like I'm bursting with excitement over finding the cure for cancer. Or just finding something to stop farting. It's not as if I was awarded the Funniest Person Alive Award. Or the Coolest Person Ever To Live Award. I mean, if those happened this insomnia would be completely understandable, don't you agree? But nope, it was just a usual made-dinner-watched-movie-with-roommie-went-to-bed type of night.

Maybe I'm awake because of these blackberries. I know I already said I wasn't going to get anymore, but I totally lied. I might even have known I was lying when I originally wrote that, but hoped that by vowing off picking it would actually come true. Oh, that was so not going to happen. Jess and I jaunted back to our spot this evening and picked even more. We found a new patch that was totally jackpot-just-won-the-lottery good. Unfortunately, we had to abort our mission early because we had some not so friendly mosquitos dive bombing us.

I have some grand plans to go back there tomorrow night with my camera to take pictures. This time, however, I will be covered with bug spray. The blood bar is closed! I have 9 little critters that are now drunk because of me and I will just not enable them anymore.

I obviously have to come up with some new ways to use blackberries because we are going to have quite the stock. I dreamt this drink up before we started picking and was so excited to find that it tasted as good as I had hoped. If I had had some vodka on hand, I would have added that, but it was still tasty.

Blackberry Spritzer

Blackberry Spritzer

Blackberry Spritzer

ginger ale or sparkling water
1 cup sugar
2-3 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped from stems
lemon wedge

In a food processer, pulse sugar & rosemary together until finely chopped. Spread in a shallow bowl and set aside.

In same food processor bowl, puree blackberries until desired consistency.

Rub the rim of a glass with the lemon wedge. Invert and dip in the sugar mixture to create a layer of sugar along the edge of the glass.

Carefully pour ginger ale in glass, making sure to not wash any of the sugar off. Spoon in 1-2 Tbsp of the blackberry puree and stir. Add ice and enjoy!

Mountain Bean Salad

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mountain Bean Salad

This very simple salad was born out of a desperate need to use up a TON of Romano beans we had in our fridge. The past couple weeks we have received two bags worth from The Farm and they were on the cusp of going bad.

Mountain Bean Salad

I was inspired to shred the beans after seeing a different recipe using that technique. From there, I scrounged through my pantry and came up with the rest of it. I used my food processor to cut the beans, but you could also chop them on a diagonal by hand.

Mountain Bean Salad

The salad got its name because it looks like, well, a mountain. It is meant to be eaten at room temp, but it would be good warm or cold as well.

Mountain Bean Salad

Mountain Bean Salad

serves 3-4

1-2 lbs. Romano beans, or any type of green bean, shredded
1 can kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained
3 scallions, chopped
freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano
drizzle olive oil
3-4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp water and the Romano beans. Add salt & pepper to taste and cook 4-8 minutes, until slightly cooked but still pretty crisp. Stir occasionally. If the beans are taking a while to cook, cover with a lid and let steam for a few minutes.

Mix kidney & garbanzo beans. Divide the mixture between individual plates. Pile the cooked Romano beans on top and drizzle with a small amount of balsamic vinegar. Add the scallions and fresh Paremesan Reggiano.

Your plate should look like this at the end:

Mountain Bean Salad


Monday, September 1, 2008


Yesterday Jess and I went picking blackberries. She had asked if I wanted to do blueberries, but since I have a traumatic childhood memory of blueberry farm u-picks, I soundly rejected that idea. However, I was keen to go hunting for blackberries instead. We suspected we would find a large amount on the trail behind our apartments, and we were certainly right. We picked for an hour or so, managing to take home about 16 cups worth. I did bequeath Jess the title of "Superior Blackberry Picker" due to her picking a large amount fairly early on, but had to rescind the title when she made a novice move. My jeans happened to be stuck to a large blackberry vine so I went to gingerly pluck the thorns from my pants. However, Jess decided to come to my rescue and stepped on the vine so that I would be free. What she did not take into account is that vines of that size can do some damage, and she ended up putting a hole in my jeans. Seriously an amateur picker move. I was forced to tell her that she no longer held the crown for the day because of that little feat. I trust she has learned her lesson.

Since we have absolutely no immediate use for 16 cups of berries, we are laying them on plastic lined cookie sheets and freezing them. Once they are frozen, we put them into bags and stack them in the freezer. I have realized that I really can't do this with any more fruit this year. I have included a picture for you to see what the current state of our little freezer is. Behind what you see are even more bags of fruit. I kid you not.


Cilantro Pesto

Cilantro Pesto

I had a ton of cilantro hanging out in our fridge that needed to be used immediately. While at work one day last week, I was struck with the inspiration to make cilantro pesto. Normally it requires basil, but I decided to change it up to make do with the ingredients I had. The following is my adaption of several recipes. I just tossed the pesto with some cooked soba noodles, threw some sauteed veggies on top, and called it good. You might want to note that this is VERY garlic-y so I didn't take the remaining pasta to work the next day. You might just want to eat this alone, when you're not expecting to have to talk to anyone for a while. Unless of course, the person you're talking happens to love garlic breath.

Cilantro Pesto
2 large cloves garlic
1 peeled shallot
1/2 cup walnuts
1 large bunch cilantro (2 cups loosely cup)
2 T rice vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 t salt

Put garlic and shallot in a blender or food processor and chop. Add nuts, clean cilantro leaves and vinegar and process until very fine. While food processor is on, slowly add olive oil and process until smooth. Add salt to taste. Keep in an air tight container in the fridge for a week.

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